Manson Displays Contempt as Murder Trial Begins
Sunday, July 26th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 26 – Charles Manson used a razor blade and a pencil to demonstrate his absolute contempt for straight society as the prosecution opened its case in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial.
The 35-year-old cult chieftain, wearing rumpled jail dungarees, arrived in court Friday morning with an “X” slashed in the middle of his forehead and a copy of a statement he had written to “society.”
Manson, as usual, stole the show from co-prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi, who in an opening statement claimed the cult chief had ordered the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others to precipitate a black-white civil war.
Manson’s one-paged mimeographed statement was circulated among newsmen and was in more demand than the 13-page copy of Bugliosi’s opening remarks.
“I have X’d myself from your world,” Manson wrote. “I do not accept what you call justice.”
And to make the point, Manson earlier last week in his jail cell took a razor blade and made the mark on his forehead, according to his attorney.
“I stand with my X with my love, with my God and by myself,” Manson said in the statement. “My faith in me is stronger than all your armies, governments, gas chambers or anything you may want to do to me.”
As Manson fiddled with the copy of his statement and another sheaf of paper — apparently Bugliosi’s opening remarks — the prosecutor said of the cult leader:
“The evidence will show Manson to be a megalomaniac who coupled his insatiable thirst for power with an intense obsession for violent death.”
Manson alternately smiled at Bugliosi, then ignored the prosecutor, as did the cult chief’s three followers and co-defendants, Susan Atkins 22, Patricia Krenwinkel 22 and Leslie Van Houten 19.
Bugliosi carefully outlined the events leading up to Aug. 9 when Miss Tate and four others were slain at her Benedict Canyon home, and Aug. 10, when market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were stabbed while at their Los Feliz residence.
The first two witnesses, retired Army Lt. Col. Paul J. Tate and Wilfred E. Parent, were called by the prosecution to establish the identities of the victims who were shot and stabbed Aug. 9.
Col. Tate, a distinguished appearing man who speaks with a soft Southern drawl, was calm as he identified photographs of his daughter, of hairstylist Jay Sebring, Polish playboy Voityck Frykowsky and coffee heiress Abigail Folger, all killed at the actress’ home.
Parent, a gray haired construction worker from El Monte, was more emotional, however, as he identified a photo of his 18-year-old son Steven who also was slain at the Tate home.
Young Parent had been visiting the caretaker of the estate and apparently stumbled across the murderers as he was leaving.
He was shot to death inside his car and was the only one of the victims who was not stabbed. Bugliosi earlier had referred to Manson’s desire to make the murders appear as if they were done by blacks.
The word “pig” was written in blood on the door of the Tate home and the bloody legends “Death to Pigs,” “Helter-Skelter” and “Rise” were on the walls of the LaBianca house.
“Helter-Skelter,” Bugliosi explained, is Manson’s term for the black-white war and subsequent takeover of the world by Negroes.
Also testifying during the day was Winifred Chapman, Miss Tate’s cook and housekeeper who found the bodies of Parent, Frykowsky and Miss Folger when she arrived for work about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 9.
During cross-examination, defense attorneys attempted to elicit from Mrs.. Chapman information that drugs or alcohol were used by Miss Tate, her husband movie director Roman Polanski, or guests.
Trial Judge Charles H. Older upheld repeated prosecution objections, however, and refused to allow Mrs. Chapman to testify about drugs or alcohol.
Also questioned was 20-year-old William Garretson, who lived in a guest house on the estate grounds when the murders occurred.
Garretson worked for Rudy Altobelli, the owner of the guest house and the home rented by Miss Tate and her husband.
He cared for Altobelli’s three dogs while the man was in Europe during July and August.
Parent visited Garretson about 11:45 p.m. Aug. 8, the brown-haired, neatly dressed witness recalled. He said Parent had with him a clock radio, which he tried to sell to Garretson. He left about 12:15 a.m. after making a telephone call.
Garretson, now married and living in Lancaster, Ohio, said he stayed awake until daybreak, listening to records on his stereo and writing letters. He said he tried to telephone time service shortly before he went to sleep, but the phone was dead.
(The killers had cut the telephone wires leading to the estate.)
Garretson said he heard no gunshots, screams or loud noise during the night and although the dogs barked, “it was nothing to be alarmed about.”
He said the next thing he remembered after falling asleep was one of the dogs awakening him.
Garretson said he looked outside and saw a police officer “pointing a rifle at me.”
Another officer armed with a rifle joined the first and a third, with a service revolver, “kicked in the door and Christopher (one of the dogs) bit him on the leg.”
Garretson was arrested as a suspect, but freed after two days of questioning. He left for his hometown in Ohio immediately after that and had not returned to California until today.
Both Garretson, who will continue testifying tomorrow, and Mrs. Chapman said they did not know Manson or the three young women. Bugliosi claimed the murders occurred because of Manson’s “fanatical obsession with Helter-Skelter,” a phrase from a recording by the Beatles which Manson took to mean the black-white war.
Manson, said Bugliosi, felt the entire white race would be wiped out by the civil war and he planned to take his nomadic band to the “bottomless pit” in the desert so its members could survive.
The cult chieftain, the prosecutor said, felt the blacks would later “turn over the reins of power to the white people who escaped Helter-Skelter.”
Manson believed the blacks would start the war by themselves, but finally “got impatient,” Bugliosi said.
He claimed Manson finally told his followers, “I’m going to have to show blackie how to do it,” and then ordered the murders.
The words “Helter-Skelter” were written in blood on the wall of the home of LaBianca and his wife. Also written on the wall in blood at the Los Feliz home of the LaBianca’s, “Death to Pigs” and “Rise.”
The word “Pigs” was written in blood at the Tate home. “Evidence at this trial will show . . Manson should be a vagrant wanderer, a frustrated singer and guitarist, a pseudo-philosopher, but most of all, the evidence will show him to be a killer who cleverly masqueraded behind the common image of a hippie, that of being peace loving,” Bugliosi said.
The prosecutor conceded that Manson had not done any of the actual killings, but “at his command” his followers killed the seven victims. Bugliosi spoke of Manson’s “family” and said the cult leader had “total domination” over his followers.
By SANDI METTETAL